William Thomas Lucas
United Farmers of Alberta
I was simply quoting a headline which appeared in one of the papers. If the hon. member believes it is not right he can take that up with the newspaper. I am told that if the shoe factories in the United States worked full time for seventeen days they could manufacture sufficient shoes to last the whole nation for one year. It is general knowledge that the productive capacity of our plant and equipment is far beyond the ability of our people to purchase. On the one side we have a tremendous capacity to produce: on the other side we have a tremendous unfilled demand, but there is a barrier between. We have the resources, we have the man power, we have the plant and equipment and we
have the demand, but we have not the purchasing power with which to make the exchange and in my opinion until we deal with this matter our efforts to bring about an improvement will be of little avail.
Surely no one will say that he is satisfied with present conditions. The committee dealing with price spreads considered many of these problems and brought in a report recommending that certain rules should be laid down for the governing of business and that legislation should be introduced to see that the game was played according to those rules. The question is whether we are going to see that that end is brought about, or are we going to continue the unfair rules which exist to-day. It is a onesided game which enables 64,434 persons out of a population of over 10,500,000 to obtain some or all of the luxuries of life while the rest have difficulty in obtaining the necessities. These figures are taken from the income tax returns and show the number paying tax on incomes of S3,000 and over. Business and industry have had a free hand and having failed to make proper rules it then becomes the duty of the state to interfere and endeavour to evolve rules which will be fair and satisfactory to all concerned. But if we are to make these rules we should have a complete understanding of the game.
While I have no criticism to offer of the investigations carried on by the price spreads commission as far as they went-in fact I believe they were restricted by the reference -I claim that they left untouched the most important problem of all, that of finance and its relation to our economic life. I would make this suggestion: No matter which party may be in power after the next election, one of the first things which should be undertaken is a full and complete investigation into our whole- financial system. There is no question about our power to deal with such a matter in this parliament. Last year a group of prominent business men appealed through thie London Times for such an investigation in Great Britain. The London Chamber of Commerce, the Southampton Chamber of Commerce, the British Rotary and other bodies are on record as asking for a change in the financial system of Great Britain. In my humble opinion until something is done to bring the factor of consumption more nearly into balance with our greatly increased factor of production, our efforts to improve conditions will be of little avail. The greatest thing we can do to-day to help industry is to give it a chance to produce. The producer is being strangled simply becouse he cannot sell his goods, the very goods which the
Trade Commission-Mr. Lucas
people would buy if they had incomes large enough to do so. Everywhere people are beginning to realize that there is something wrong with our system of distribution. The fundamental principle of finance is to facilitate the distribution of goods; it superseded the barter system. We all know why we have an agricultural industry; we all know why we have developed an industrial system; we know why we have a transportation system. But why have we built- up a financial system? In my opinion it is simply to facilitate the distribution of goods among the people, and apparently it is not functioning properly. Henry Ford put the situation very well when he said:
Although money is supposed to represent the real wealth of the world, there is always more wealth than there is money and real wealth is often compelled to wait upon money thus leading to that most paradoxical situation, a world filled with wealth but suffering wrant. The poverty of the world is seldom caused by lack of goods but by a money stringency.
We hear a great deal about sound money and one is inclined to ask, what is sound money. I think it reasonable to say that a sound money system is a system that works, a system that makes effective the necessary demands for goods. Our present money system is therefore anything but sound. In this connection I might quote the following extract from the London Times under the heading Money System's Disease:
Money System's Disease The Times (London)
There are millions of decent, hard-working people and their children in, the richest countries in the world, including ours, wTho are living below the poverty-line at this moment. Why? Is it because of scarcity? No. It is because of over-abundance. That is the supreme paradox of our generation. We are producing too many and too much of the commodities that these poor people need, therefore they must go without. The prolonged flood of good things has created a drought.
There is too much corn, too much beef, mutton, bacon, butter, and in order to cure it millions of deserving people have to be kept on half rations. We are turning out too many clothes, too many boots, so little children ir the distressed areas must go in rags and tatters until this overproduction is stopped
of the very things for lack of which they are shivering in this damp climate.
Certainly we in Canada have an abundance of practically everything we need. Our labour is of a high standard; our machinery is of the best; our electrical and other power now developed-and that development is only in its infancy-is equal to one hundred and fifty million slave men ready and willing to do our bidding. No one will say that we have not sufficient transportation; our banks
are efficient and adequate and our retailing equipment is more than adequate. Thus purchasing power in the pockets of the people is the only thing lacking. This can be secured not by using the printing press but by a scientific credit plan to balance consumption more nearly with our production. This can be secured by a national credit account based, hot on a gold reserve but on the country's capacity to produce. Just as slavery lifted the burden of toil from the backs of the free citizens of olden days, so should the power-driven machine do now. The machine is now our slave instead of the human slave as in olden times.